Approximately two weeks ago, right after the bridal shower my mom and I threw and in the heat of planning for a local family night out with the Quad City Moms Blog, I turned to Ryan and said “I’m going low-key with Henry’s birthday party this year.”
(If you know me at all, feel free to laugh hysterically right now.)
The only major thing I had completed at that point were the invites – which were barely sent out within two weeks of the party. I was just so behind. And I try to stick to the rule that if it’s not something I want to do for a party, I’m not going to do it. Because if it’s not fun, it’s not worth the stress.
I had a few ideas, a handful or supplies, and a Pinterest board, but that was all. And I wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to come together. And you know what? That was okay. Henry could have cared less about all the decor and details and favors.
But somehow, my version of “low-key” turned into totally not low-key. You knew I was going to say that, right?
I ended up getting (almost) everything else I needed online with two-day shipping and I crafted my little heart out for four days before his big second birthday party. Just the way I like it. The crafting is my favorite part.
And it all came out beautifully. The weather was perfect. Everyone seemed to have a blast. WE EVEN GOT A FAMILY PHOTO WHERE EVERYONE IS LOOKING AT THE CAMERA AND SMILING. A birthday miracle.
I know that Henry would have been totally content with a store-bought cake and a few gifts, but he had a great time with his momma’s craziness, too.
I really tried to focus on things he loves –
- We served his favorite foods – hot dogs, chips, fruits, veggies and cookies. Oh, and lemonade.
- We had a popcorn bar, which is something he’s been obsessed with since way before he should have been eating popcorn. Popcorn can make him do just about anything – which is a power I try to use for good.
- We had plenty of fun wheeled toys for him and the other kids to play with. He loves any toys with wheels, so I was glad that when he got to the party, he immediately spotted all the tractors and they kept him entertained for hours.
- Oh, and there were balloons, which were an unexpected hit.
I already mentioned yesterday that we were going with a loose Johnny Tractor theme and I wanted to use lots of photos of my tractor-lover. Starting with the photo invites from Tiny Prints.
For the actual party, we decided to rent a pavilion at a local park. This meant I avoided cleaning my house. It also gave some built-in kids activities. But mostly, it meant I didn’t have to clean my house.
There were some awesome perks to having the party somewhere else. But, loading up everything and taking it all there to set up in one morning? Exhausting. Usually, I decorate the house over several days. But then I didn’t have to worry about cleaning my house after the party either. (Okay. I really SHOULD clean my house now that it’s over. But I haven’t.)
Let’s get on to the photos. And there are a lot of photos.
The food table – with plenty of Henry favorites like hot dogs, chips, fruits and veggies and lots of dip and ketchup. (I made the tags with my Silhouette using Kraft paper. And went with fun themed names like Farm Dogs, John Deere Greens, Veggie Patch, Chicken Feed, Haystacks, and the Orchard. Inspiration from Theron’s Wheels Party and Weston’s Backyard Birthday Bash.)
The stand-in tractor photo prop was sent to my by 1st Wishes (along with so many other adorable details). I am borderline obsessed with it and all the kids loved putting their heads in the cutout. I made the simple tractor sign with a chalkboard arrow I bought for his party last year from Save-On-Crafts.
The windmill is my parents’ and I convinced them to bring it to the party to use as a photo prop.
I simply printed Henry’s monthly photos and attached to the frame with clothespins. (I glued the Kraft paper signs to the clothespins.)
And then there’s Corny Cornpicker’s Popcorn Bar. This was so adorable and I’m bummed I didn’t get a better picture.
The apple baskets were from a friend’s wedding last fall. The couple had a totally awesome popcorn bar and gave me all their baskets, seasonings and jars. We rigged the baskets up on a old ladder that belonged to Ryan’s grandpa and I bought two large bags of popcorn at the local popcorn place, printed bags with the logo, and let people go to town. (Hint: Buffalo ranch popcorn. To-die.)
The popcorn was fun for all ages. (And the farm fabric is a dishtowel from Crate & Barrel, which I spotted at my friend Joi’s.)
I would recommend not getting any fingers near Henry’s mouth while eating dirt cake. You may lose them.
And I can’t forget the amazing cookies (by 2 Mamas Baking for locals).
When it came to favors, I went with Johnny Tractor books that I found on Amazon. I picked two different books so families with more than one child didn’t take home too many duplicates.
I packaged the books with Johnny Tractor stickers and a custom temporary tattoo I made with my Silhouette (more on that later).
I made the tags on Kraft paper with my printer and Silhouette. Henry has become a huge book lover this year, so I thought this would be a great favor that kids may actually keep. As for tattoos and stickers, what toddler doesn’t adore them?
Oh, and kids also took home these awesome John Deere tractor tumblers from 1st Wishes.
And not to let the adults go away empty-handed, I whipped up these awesome green stadium cups after realizing it wouldn’t be much more expensive than buying disposable. I’ll share how I did this later, too.
In addition to food, I wanted to make sure that kids stayed entertained so no one felt rushed to leave.
The hit of the party for the kids was the corn table. I emptied our sand and water table and filled it with one bag of corn from Farm and Fleet. The kids flocked to it and hardly left it. (I tried to bring plenty of tractors and shovels for everyone.)
We also had fun with the photo booth.
And we got to try our luck with a Johnny Tractor piñata.
I had planned a rousing game of Pin the Funnel on the Tractor. But, we ended up skipping it. Although Henry did like the sign.
He could have cared less about the gift opening, although he totally loved his treasures once they were opened.
And there was much fun to be had with those rad balloons.
All in all, a wonderful – but not very low-key – gathering for my two-year-old. And judging by the fact that Henry passed out in the car on the way home and slept for 3 1/2 hours, I’d say it was a success by all standards.
Do you go overboard for birthdays, too?